One of the reasons I chose the MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School was the experiential, collaborative, and practical nature of the Cambridge programme. The Cambridge Venture Project (CVP) that we just concluded this term delivered on that. The CVP, which is an eight week live Case Project in the Michaelmas Term, was a chance to work with an early-stage entrepreneur from the Cambridge Silicon Fen with my study group.
A distinctive feature of my study group, that is hand-picked by the MBA Programme team, is its diversity. Not only was it diverse in terms of nationality, it was also diverse in terms of background and skillsets. There was Aparna from India, who had worked in the public sector and product management, Jose from Chile, who worked with airlines in customer experience, analytics, and data science, Yiwen from China, who has a diverse financial and economics background having worked with Deloitte, Bryden from Canada, whose background was in strategy and asset management, and myself from Kenya, with both an engineering and entrepreneurship background.
To avoid being too much of a task-based team, we went punting together before we began the project. I also found that a scavenger hunt helped us get to know each other and have fun outside of the CVP project.
Working with our client, Get Zero, who is building a gamified app to help achieve net zero homes in the UK, was a unique experience. As someone with six years of working experience as both a civil engineer and an entrepreneur, the CVP felt like a taster of management consulting.
The CVP project, which lasted from late mid-October to early December, across our first MBA term, had an interesting cycle; there was the initial introduction to the client and the mentor, the understanding of the client’s market challenge, then the definition of our scope and deliverables which we documented in the Project Initiation Document (PID). This was then followed by the market research, the check-in meetings, and the final sprint towards a presentation of the project overall, with the project deliverables as defined in the initial PID.
We undertook market research for the best beachhead segment for our client and offered commercialisation options for their app. As we did the research, it was very interesting getting insights into the energy market across the UK, in particular. I also found conversations with our dedicated Mentor and Cambridge eco-system legend, Hugh Parnell, along with other energy industry experts, to be particularly useful in shaping the outcome of the project.
To help in the successful execution, collaboration, and completion of this project, there was the MBA Management Praxis core course that began before and ran alongside the CVP, whose main purpose was to help us understand the nuances involved in team building. This was further supplemented by teamwork exercises, games, and a facilitated group meeting with another study group. I was excited to employ my facilitation skills in one of these reflection sessions with another study group. A surprise module that we took, whose content I now apply in presentations and normal interactions going forward, was a Body Talk programme, which helped us prepare for our final CVP presentation. Having previously built my own business from idea to market, it was interesting to see how other entrepreneurs and business owners approach their commercialisation options.
Looking back, I am impressed by the amount of work we managed to put in, given that the CVP project ran parallel with the full-time MBA. Among other things, I gained market research and problem-solving skills for early-stage entrepreneurs. I am also impressed by the openness of the mentor and other support staff across the CJBS community, like the library services, and how much they were invested in helping us succeed.
Most of all, I was impressed by the humility of my MBA team and group members, who even with their vast and rich experience, were all equally curious to be learners and explorers and to contribute towards the future realisation of net zero homes.
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